With massive security measures in place and elaborate Covid-19 safety precautions, counting began at 8am across the state. Photo by S Lenin
CHENNAI: Initial trends in counting for the Tamil Nadu assembly election on Sunday pushed M K Stalin’s DMK in the lead with the ruling AIADMK led by Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam not far behind. In the Union territory of Puducherry, the AINR Congress-BJP alliance established a lead ahead of its Congress rival.
In the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha by-election, Congress candidate Vijay Vasanth, son of H Vasantha Kumar, whose death due to Covid-19 caused the vacancy, was ahead of BJP’s Pon Radhkrishnan.
With massive security measures in place and elaborate Covid-19 safety precautions, counting began at 8am across the state. As is customary, counting was taken up for postal ballots first with a slight delay due to minor glitches. Counting after the first hour showed DMK and AIADMK racing almost neck and neck, but as counting picked up pace, the DMK and its allies pushed ahead.
Stalin and Palaniswami established early leads in their own constituencies of Kolathur and Edappady.
MNM leader Kamal Haasan also remained ahead but with a thin lead.
OPS and Stalin’s son Udhayandihi were ahead in their constituencies of Bodinayakkanur in Theni district and Chepauk- Thiruvallikeni in Chennai, respectively.
AMMK leader T T V Dhinakaran and NTK leader Seeman were trailing when close to two hours after counting began. Some of the high profile constituencies showed tough fights. Several AIADMK ministers appeared to be registering setbacks.
The intensely fought pre-election campaigns of the two main parties in the fray, the DMK and the AIADMK, were marked by some intense strategizing, tall promises and claims of achievements.
Among the key factors that could influence the poll outcome are anti-incumbency against the AIADMK, just completing its longest stint of 10 year-governance, and allegations of corruption. For the DMK, charges of dynasty politics and the reputation of ‘a rowdy party’ as alleged by its adversary could impact its prospects.
Campaigns were marked by competitive populism and offers of freebies, as is intrinsic to an election in Tamil Nadu.